• Vuelta a España 2017. (Getty)Source: Getty
Organisers have rejected calls from cyclists for a flatter Vuelta a España with competitors required to tackle three summit finishes each week of the race.
Cycling Central

13 Jan 2017 - 11:32 AM 

Complaints that the Vuelta a Espana has featured too many punishing climbs in recent years fell on deaf ears as organisers unveiled another demanding route featuring nine mountain finishes.

While the opening stage will take place outside Spain for only the third time, with riders setting off in Nimes, France, on 19 August, other aspects of the three-week race will concern those taking part.

"It's a climber's course, no doubts about that. No place for TT specialists who climb just well. Not even for sprinters. Some stages, like the one in Murcia, are mountain ones even if they don't finish uphill." - Alejandro Valverde.

“It looks like a really demanding Vuelta a España," said 2009 winner and Movistar captain Alejandro Valverde.

"Some people will probably say they shot completely off the mark, and for those like us who are suffering it on the bike it will be even more of a challenge, but I understand and prefer to have it this way. 

"At the end of the day, fans want spectacle, and with this route, I'm confident the race will be really attractive for them."

The penultimate stage will require riders to head up to Angliru, Spain's toughest single climb in the northern region.

Sprint specialist Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was among those who felt recent Vuelta routes have become far too challenging and labelled them "stupid".

"We are looking for the race to remain spicy during the three weeks, for it to go from less to more," race organiser Javier Guillen said.

"The Angliru is the colossus. The Angliru will be a good judge of the Vuelta."

The 2017 edition features one mountain finish less than last year, with competitors required to tackle three summit finishes each week.

The 3,297.7km race will include 21 stages, heading to Andorra, Catalonia, the Valencia region, southern Andalusia province before finishing in Madrid on 10 September.

"You'll have to plan your training schedule well and peak early, because those three mountain-top finishes in the first week will take a big share in the overall result," Valverde said. 

"For the climbs on week two, I know them really well, they're really demanding and high altitude combined with the slopes will make a big impact. That will pay off a lot when entering the Cantabria stages, and also L'Angliru, famous for its incredible ramps."

The last time the race started abroad was in 2009 in Assen, Netherlands.

With Movistar's Nairo Quintana not expected to defend his title, Team Sky rider Chris Froome could finally land his first Vuelta victory having finished second in 2011, 2014 and 2016.